Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Merry Christmas" 2011

We begin this blog by going back to the middle of November.  We really miss Seminary!  The new year for Seminary will begin the middle of January.  The director wants Seminary to be held daily which means we will have to give up one of our classes.  We can't put that many kilometers on our car as the classes are about 45 minutes away in different townships. 

Clyde did an amazing job speaking on "being truly converted" in District Conference.  Relief Society Conference was a success.  Our theme was President Uchtdorf's talk "Forget Me Not".  It rained so very hard that day and that limited the attendance.  The luncheon was perfect.  I served Ranch Dressing, which they don't have here, and everyone wants the recipe.  Unfortunately I used mixes  from home and I don't have a recipe, but everywhere I go people ask me for it.  As a take-home gift from the RS Conference I had made a bookmark for each sister and gave them each a package of Forget-me-not seeds.  We went to every store in this area to find seeds.  Very few places carried them.  We managed to pick up about 50 packets of seeds, one or two packages at a time, which turned out about right.  But we have to chuckle as every store now carries them.  I guess they thought there was a real market for them.  They will probably still be on the racks long after we are gone!

We had our ten stripling warriors here for Thanksgiving.  We started cooking on Tuesday as the turkeys were so small that we had to roast one of them ahead of time.  Also our oven doesn't accommodate much at a time.  We only have one oven rack, but I'm just so grateful to have electricity and a stove!  We had two turkeys, each 5.8 kilos (12 pounds) which cost $25 each.  We baked our own seasond bread to make stuffing, as stuffing cubes aren't available.  We baked four pumpkin pies with real Libby's pumpkin sent to us by Clyde's brother and sister-in-law, Ron and Karla,  along with Crisco to make the pie crust.  Then we baked six dozen rolls.  Clyde made his traditional yams and apples (used sweet potatoes) and we had mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, peas and carrots, a delicious fruit salad brought by the elders, Russians (a sausage/hot dog) and rolls brought by another set of elders and soft drinks and even wassail brought by another set of elders.  We had a wonderful time!!  When it was over, the elders moved all the furniture back and helped clean up.  We have the greatest elders!

Our table set for twelve.  The beautiful roses were brought to us  by Rose,
our property manager, who had never heard about Thanksgiving
before and wanted to contribute.  We wish she could have joined us!

One of our turkeys.  The African elders had never seen a roasted
turkey before and several of them had their pictures taken holding it!

Elders Shipp and Tidwell and their amazing fruit salad!

Enjoying the feast . . .

Elder Shawarira discovered what turkey does to you . . .

On Friday after Thanksgiving I took a pumpkin pie to my English class.  They had never heard of using pumpkin in a pie but they loved it!  They were so cute about it.  I just love them.

Getting to English class is sometimes a challenge.  Our students just
took off their sandals and waded through.  This is common after the
heavy "rains in Africa"
On December 8th we had a zone conference and mission Christmas party.  We had the priviledge of
having Elder Carl B. Cook and Sister Cook along with President and Sister Von Stetten teach us.  Elder Cook is from the area where we live in Utah.  He went to Weber High and now has a home in Liberty.  But as a member of the 1st Quorum of Seventy he is a counsellor in the Africa Southeast Area Presidency here and now resides in Johannesburg.  He is an amazing teacher and we were truly inspired by him, his wife and the Von Stettens.  We had a beautiful dinner and the elders each received a new tie, which was presented kind of like a white elephant gift exchange where they could choose to take another elder's tie before opening the one they were given.  I think everyone had a lot of fun.
While we were at the zone conference our car was repaired (from the encounter with the bus) and we no longer drive a car that resembles old Bill Moser's Ford (inside story that only family will understand).  Teddy, who does the body work for the mission vehicles is amazing.  He even tightened all the rattles we continue to get from all the horrible roads with potholes where we have to drive.

bottom row l to r :  Elders Shumway, Shawarira, Atoya, Nuzman,
Sister Nuzman Elder Cook, Sister Cook, Sister Von Stetten,
President Von Stetten, Elders Moxon, Shelton, and Tidwell
top row l to r:  Elders Masilela, Puso, Shipp. Ssenyonga,
Risley and Karabonyana
One of the great things about zone conferences is seeing elders who
have served with us previously.  Here Elder Nuzman reunites with
Elder Cunguara from Mozambique who will soon be going home.
On December 10th we attended the Richards Bay branch Christmas party which was a braai at the beach.  You see Christmas comes in the summer here.  It is hard for us to feel like it is Christmas as it is getting very hot and humid.  We had a lot of good food and fun fellowshipping with the branch.

Elder Nuzman watches as District Pres.Ted Baldwin
 sets up the braai.

Elders Moxon, Risley, Shelton and Ssenyonga wait for everyone to assemble.

Richard's Bay sisters are having fun visiting.
Sister duPlooy and Sister Nuzman
Michelle (an investigator), Pres. Baldwin, Calwyn Baldwin, and Mark Swartzberg
On December 11th we had our transfer news dinner (sometimes referred to as the last supper).  Elder Shawarira finished his mission and had to leave by bus before our dinner.  We will really miss him.  He is an outstanding young man; his parents are not members but his father says he wants to be baptised now that he is home.  We were hit hard by transfers with each companionship losing one member.  So we say goodbye to Elders Tidwell, Karabonyana, Ssenyonga, Risley and Shawarira and we welcome Elders Wark, Jallah, Bangeter, Sincreah and Banda.

Elder Nuzman has a hard time saying
goodbye to Elder Shawarira.
Moving on to other zones are Elders Karabonyana, Risley, Ssenyonga and Tidwell

Welcome Elders Wark from Scotland, Jallah from Liberia, and
Bangerter from Bountiful, UT.

Transfers were on December13th but we were not involved with transport so we celebrated Clyde's 66th birthday together.  We had a birthday cake on Sunday with the elders and so Clyde requested an apple pie for his birthday.  It was a beautiful day and  after we delivered a food order to a family in Nseleni we went out to dinner at one of Clyde's favorite places, Porkys at the Tuzi Gazi waterfront.

Happy Birthday to me?  Thanks Elders!

Sixty-six; it doesn't seem possible.
The following day we had to drive south to Ballito which is about 45 minutes north of Durban.  There we met the DeLaMares, one of the office couples, who brought us an order we had long been waiting for.  It rained so hard all day which was sad as you couldn't even see the ocean and we couldn't show the DeLaMares the beautiful coastline in that area.

On the way home we had to stop in Stanger to help a set of elders who were out of power.  We gave them R500 to fill their meter.  You buy power in advance and enter a code into your meter.  It really is a good system as the utility company doesn't have to collect on bad accounts.  And people are more cautious about wasting electricity as they don't want to use it up too quickly.

On December 18th we attended the Nseleni branch Christmas party. They asked us the day before to help.  So we made rice krispie treats for the children and purchased "Kinderjoys" (the South African version of the German Kinderegg).  We also made Toll House marble squares, a chocolate chip bar cookie, for everyone.  There were to be three speakers but Yvonne was the only one who came.  So Elder Banda introduced himself to the members. The program was very short, and I think everyone was pleased!  They had so much meat and not very many people, but it was fun.

Elders Sincreah, Shelton, and Banda, the braai specialists!
Elders Sincreah and Banda are from Malawi.

Tables all set for the Christmas party

We gave the Primary children their treats.

What did you get in your Kinderjoy?

President Vilane's youngest daughter, Nsipho
She is such a little doll!

Saturday evening, about 7:30 PM, a family in Port Durnford called and said they were completely out of food and asked if we could help them.  All stores close by 8 PM and there was no way we could get anything out to them.  Needless to say, we didn't sleep well all night.  So Sunday morning very early we gathered together enough food off of our shelves and freezer to last them a couple of days.  Clyde drove it out to them about 6:30 AM and told them to talk to their branch president and then he would call us and we could then deliver a food order to them. 

Sunday was the Nseleni Branch Conference.  It should have been in October but had to be postponed.  Very few people attended as school is out for the summer and people are gone for the Christmas holiday. 
The day was very warm and the District speakers
put this little boy right to sleep!

Sunday evening we joined the Richard's Bay branch to watch the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional.  We had watched it live in the wee hours of the morning via the internet the first weekend of December, but I think we actually enjoyed it even more the second time.  What tremendous men they are!

We delivered the food order to Port Durnford today and also dropped off some Christmas gammons (hams) to a few families we know won't have much of a Christmas this year.  We aren't exchanging gifts as anything we accumulate we have to carry home in a few months.  Our greatest gifts to each other are the opportunities we have daily to be of service in some small way to the very needy people here that we see every day out in the townships.  You don't see Christmas lights, Christmas trees and wrapped presents in the homes we visit.  The severe poverty is hard for us sometimes, but how we have been blessed to have enough to share with those around us.  We sometimes get taken advantage of but we listen to the promptings of the Spirit and we feel we can usually discern what we are to do.

We are taking our elders to breakfast Christmas Eve morning and will give them each a stocking that we have had so much fun filling.  This way they can spend Christmas Sunday with the people with whom they serve who all want to have the elders come to their homes.

The elders stockings
We love all of you and appreciate the tremendous support you continue to give as we serve.  We know the gospel is true and we know that Jesus Christ lives and continues to inspire our leaders around the world. 

Have a very joyous Christmas and make 2012 your best year yet!

Colorful nativity from Swaziland

Zulu nativity with beaded animals